This is a full on autumn dress – snuggly knit fabric, sleeves and bright colour! I am super pleased with how this came out, particularly as it represents quite a lot of work. It was ready just in time for SewBrum – because of course if you are going to be meeting other people who sew you need a fabulous handmade dress.
This gorgeous ponte fabric came from Clothspot and was very reasonably priced at £6.25 a metre. It is lovely and drapey and the colour is rich. It feels soft to the touch and is really comfortable to wear and doesn’t cling to tights in an annoying way!
A little while ago I pinned this dress from Boden onto my autumn/winter planning board.
I love the bright colour and the shape and I was fairly sure I could recreate it with the right pattern. Thanks to the amazingness of Sewcialists on Twitter @sosewgirl pointed me to a Burdastyle pattern – the Princess Dress 11/2012.
I have to admit that, although the shape was exactly what I was looking for, this picture does not make you want to try this pattern – the silver fabric looks so stiff and hideous – as if she made the dress out of tinfoil.
But in the absence of a better plan I downloaded the pattern, marked out size 40 on the bodice, grading out to 42 at the hip. For a muslin I used a black ponte I bought last year that I didn’t love and gave it a go. It turned out absolutely huge! I realised I didn’t need a centre back seam with the ponte so I took a wider seam allowance there and I took about four inches off the bodice side seams at the waist tapering back up to the bust. The pleats were a bit of a nightmare as taking in the bodice moved the points that the pleats matched up to. There was so much ease (combined with the elasticity of the ponte) that I don’t know that sizing down would have made enough difference so I was a bit uncertain how (and whether) to proceed.
Then I thought of using the bodice and sleeves from Kitschycoo’s Lady Skater pattern which have worked really well for me already (not yet blogged). Of course the Lady Skater doesn’t have any darts in the front and although you don’t need them in ponte they are a key part of the design of this dress. So I worked out roughly where they needed to be, drew them in and added equivalent width along the side seam. I kept the Burdastyle skirt pattern (though it is just a slightly A line shaped block so you don’t really need it), I cut down about three sizes and omitted the centre back seam. The bodice and sleeves came together really well, though the darts are probably about an inch too long at the front. The skirt was more of a challenge. I had to do the pleats by eye as I had no idea how to make the pattern put them into the right place to match the darts. I ended up pinning the pleats into the right spot,making sure I had taken out enough fabric to fit into the bodice, sewing them together, going back to check they still matched up and basting them down before attaching the bodice to skirt. I unpicked part of the waist seam twice and they still aren’t totally matched – I notice that if you look closely at the pleats on Boden’s version they don’t totally match up either! If I attempt this again (and I do love it) I need to work out how you place pleats on a pattern.So I created a Skater Princess Dress and I feel extra proud of having created something that I love after all the challenges of this project – and for approximately £60 less than the Boden version.
And I had an amazing day out at SewBrum. I have read so many people saying that it is lovely to meet other people who sew and how friendly everyone is but until you experience it you don’t believe it. It was lovely to finally meet Helen (Justsewtherapeutic) who I have been exchanging comments with for a while and I met so many other people – some whose blogs I have been reading for a while and some totally new to me. I loved Barry’s and I am planning a visit to the sister store (Leon’s) near Manchester and hope it has just as much stock! I was pretty restrained and only bought one piece of fabric at Barry’s and one piece at Guthrie and Ghani in the afternoon. This was a stupid mistake on my part as I am now obsessing about all the fabric I didn’t buy.
Huge thanks to Charlotte from English Girl at Home and Lauren at Guthrie and Ghani for organising the event, with lovely cakes in the afternoon and the amazing raffle – I even won a prize (a sewing box full of really useful Prym sewing gadgets that I don’t have (like an awl and a point turner and chalk pencils) as well as pins and new scissors and other handy things. I forgot to take any pictures but you can see some here and here and here.
Really looking forward to the next one!